Superannuation to return to the Ministry post-election

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Superannuation will again have a named Minister, in the post-election Ministry.

Victorian Liberal Senator Jane Hume will be appointed as Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology, it was announced over the weekend.

Before being elected in 2016, Hume held a number of positions the financial services industry, including Senior Policy Advisor at AustralianSuper.

The appointment of Hume has been welcomed by the SMSF Association.

“Appointing a minister with direct responsibility for superannuation and financial services with the broad policy agenda of implementing recommendations from the Financial Services Royal Commission and considering recommendations made by the Productivity Commission on superannuation earlier this year is recognition of the importance the Government is assigning to this policy area,” said SMSF Association CEO John Maroney.

There was initially confusion after the 2018 reshuffle, following the leadership spill, as to which Minister would be responsible for superannuation policy. Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also criticised for not appointing a Minister for Financial Services. Both these issues appear to be avoided with the appointment of Hume.

Despite Morrison promising no new taxes on superannuation during the campaign, Hume will not be short of work. There is still a number of superannuation Bills from the previous Parliament, measures from the 2019 Budget, the Financial Services Royal Commission, and the Productivity Commission report on superannuation – to which the Government has yet to respond. Though the Government appears to be implementing at least one of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission – an independent inquiry into the retirement incomes system.

Meanwhile, Victorian Liberal MP Michael Sukkar replaces Stuart Robert as Assistant Treasurer. Sukkar will also be the Minister for Housing. Sukkar was Assistant Minister to the Treasurer from January 2017 to August 2018.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg remains in his role.

The new Ministry will be sworn in on Wednesday 29 May.

Industry welcomes and congratulates new Treasury team

The financial services industry has welcomed and congratulated the new Treasury team on their appointments.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) congratulated the Treasury team, saying they are “ well-versed and in a strong position to deliver effective policy with robust economic outcomes for superannuation and financial services”.

“This is especially important at a time when the Government is moving to implement significant reform to superannuation including: the bi-partisan commitment to increase superannuation to 12%; the Protecting Your Super package; the recommendations of the Royal Commission and other pre-election commitments.”

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) also had congratulations for the Ministers. CEO Eva Scheerlinck said the organisation, and its members, were committed to working with the Government to improve retirement outcomes for all Australians.

“We will continue to strongly advocate for policies that improve the fairness and sustainability of superannuation for all Australians, which includes a commitment to raising the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent as scheduled,” said Scheerlinck.

Scheerlinck noted that the industry faced challenges, including implementing recently legislated policies.

“There is a lot of policy and regulatory change ahead that superannuation funds are grappling with.”

“The implementation of the Protecting Your Super package of reforms, along with several other key policy changes, requires a focused and committed government to ensure smooth implementation for the industry and the best outcome for super fund members.”

Industry Super Australia Chief Executive Bernie Dean said the organisation was looking forward to working constructively with the Government, to improve performance and member outcomes.

“We need to ensure dud underperforming funds are weeded out from the system, and that there is a framework in place to connect people to a single, high-performing and quality checked fund – whether by default or choice.”

The Financial Services Council commended the new and reappointed Ministers.

“The new Treasury team brings enormous financial policy experience to the Parliament, which will provide Australia with much needed reform capability and sector stability,” said FSC CEO Sally Loane.

“Recommendations from the Hayne Royal Commission show the sector requires strong leadership and a mandate for focused reform throughout the entire Parliamentary term.”

“This includes introducing a fair and competitive default superannuation framework where individuals only default once – this will prevent waste and inefficiency where consumers end up losing money because of the proliferation of multiple accounts. The focus must be on delivering better retirement outcomes for all Australians.”

This article has been updated since publication with the comments by Industry Super Australia and the previous role held by Michael Sukkar.

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